Just Do the Work
My experience working with the Young Men (YM) in the church got off to a rocky start in my life. I moved back to my boyhood community, Flowell, Utah, in the fall of 1982. I was soon called as the YM President in the ward but I made it a low priority for my time. I was starting my engineering business in the most unlikely place of Fillmore, Utah, I was establishing my home plus my family was young requiring attention. I am ashamed of my poor initiative and little effort with that calling. I was terrible. I would report in ward council that things were good, but some of my boys’ mothers were sitting there in the meeting and knew differently. As with all callings in the Church, I was eventually released and I swore an oath that if I were ever given the opportunity to work with the youth again, I would give it my best effort.
That chance came several years later in the same ward. I served as Varsity Scout Coach and later again as YM President. I could talk for hours about the things my boys and I did and the lessons we learned during those years. I also supported my wife who was always active in young women and stake young single adult activities. And really, my time as a Bishop, serving in the Stake Presidency and as a Mission President have been a continuation of marvelous experiences with the youth and young adults in the church.
Most of you will be called to work with the young women or young men at some time after you go home. I want to share some observations and things I have learned that are also tied directly to what you are doing here on a mission.
I ask the question, “What is the calling of a Scout Master (SM) or a young women leader (I will focus on the SM to be brief)? Is it camping, advancement, uniforms, summer camp, merit badges, Tuesday night activities, quartermaster, transportation, trip permits…?”
The answer is simple but none of those logistic activities. The Scoutmaster’s calling or purpose is to assist each of his Boy Scouts to internalize the attributes of the Scout Law: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, Friendly, courteous, kind, Cheerful, thrifty, obedient, Brave, Clean, reverent. (For young women leaders, to instill the 8 YW Values)
The SM would burn out if he had to do all the other stuff required to operate his troop along with his primary assignment. It would consume him. The ward scout committee takes care of all the logistics and mechanics listed above.
In doing his assignment, suppose a SM posted an announcement on the bulletin board that early next Saturday morning the boys can hear a lecture on being trustworthy. How many 12 – 15 year old boys do you believe would line up at the door to listen? Only the ones with the toughest mothers. On the other hand, if he announced: We are going camping to the lake this Friday night and staying to fish Saturday morning, how many boys not only would line up but would line up with enthusiasm?
The genius of scouting is that the boys come willingly and enthused. The SM can then help them learn to internalize the attributes of the Scout Law in an atmosphere of ADVENTURE AND FUN. Scouts just need to go do the work of being scouts. Up at the lake during a planned evening activity and sitting around the camp fire; those boys are open and as impressionable as freshly made clay, ready to learn from the SM. His example is probably the biggest teacher. So what does this have to do with you on a mission?
About 3 years ago my wife and I came home together one afternoon after work. She punched “Play” on the telephone answering machine. A pleasant vice came on the recording, “This is Carolyn at Elder Ballard’s office. He wants to meet with you. Would you please call me to schedule an appointment?” We looked at each other. Our lives had just changed forever.
A few days later, on 3 Feb 2012 we spent 50 minutes with Elder Ballard in his office in Salt Lake City. We found him to be wise and purposeful with simple directions and most of all loving. That started a chain of events which landed us eventually at the New President’s seminar at the Provo MTC later that year in June.
One of my biggest take-aways from that seminar was learning what our primary responsibility is with our calling as Mission President and wife.
· Send missionaries home who are productive and responsible citizens anchored with a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and his atonement, the reality of our loving Heavenly Father and the restoration of the fullness of the gospel.
So, just like in Scouting, you are here on a mission in an environment of ADVENTURE AND FUN. God is the SM and you just have to go do the work. Just go do the work and the Lord will bless you with the attributes of being productive and responsible citizens anchored with testimony which are some of the “riches of eternity.” Teach the lessons in Chapter 3 of PMG using the methods of missionary work outlined in PMG. I will help you train and will work alongside of you. If it is not adventurous or fun, change your attitude, look for the good and make it fun. What you learn are life skills and, oh by the way, the skills work on a mission too.
In addition other “riches of eternity” are given to you as you just go do the work. You cannot internalize Christ-like attributes by studying the Christ-like attributes. You internalize Christ-like attributes by just going and doing the work. The return missionary shine comes indirectly. So do not work on the shine, just go do missionary work and your blessings of the shine will come. The Lord said he would give you the riches of eternity if you go do the work:
39 And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.
40 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man…go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded. (DC 38: 39-40)
I realize serving as a missionary in the Lord’s service is much more than scouting. It is, “…the thing which will be of the most worth unto you…” (DC 15:6) because the gospel provides a way for God’s children to experience joy in mortality as well as blessings of eternal life. The Lord has called you, “…to labor in my vineyard, and to build up my church, and to bring forth Zion, that it may rejoice upon the hills and flourish,” and has promised you, “…that power shall rest upon thee; thou shalt have great faith, and I will be with thee and go before thy face.” (DC 39: 12-13) The largest factor in fulfilling these expectations is to, “…go with the labor of your hands.,,” and just do the work in this environment of adventure and fun even though you experience at times sacrifice and adversity.